Images courtesy of Derek Eller Gallery and the artist
Derek Eller Gallery showcased JJ Manford’s recent solo exhibition, “Hayden Rowe Street,” featuring paintings created with oil sticks, oil pastels, and flashe paint on burlap over the canvas. In these works, Manford constructs imagined domestic scenes filled with historical artworks, objects, textiles, furniture, and animals, blurring the lines between the manufactured and natural worlds. The absence of human figures in life-sized depictions prompts viewers, especially those of Manford’s generation, to reflect on their own experiences. Additionally, Manford has translated designs from his paintings into room-sized rugs and ottomans, emphasizing the interplay between art and life.
Over the past year, landscape elements have gained prominence in Manford’s paintings, often taking precedence over interiors. Although some landscape elements are sourced from stock photographs, they provide greater expressive potential in composition and palette. Despite this shift, architectural elements such as doorframes and wooden decks anchor the landscapes, highlighting the domestic mediation of the natural environment. Manford’s work inhabits a space between invention and appropriation, painting and drawing, and experimentation and design. His carefully tuned color combinations evoke musical analogies, reflecting his artistic process. While not explicitly about life, Manford’s paintings convey a desire to infuse life into the mundane, reminding viewers that even the most ordinary aspects of life can be both wonderful and strange.